Tenkara Fly Angles: Paul Vertrees


This is the third installment in the ongoing series on Casting Around called Tenkara Fly Angles. The other angles featured in the previous posts in the series are:

Rob Lepczyk with his Dr. Ishigaki inspired kebari.
And Christope Laurent with a Zenmai kebari

This time we go to Colorado with Paul Vertrees. 

Paul Vertrees’ Takayama Sakasa Kebari
Hook: 7.5 Gamakatsu Amago
Body: Olive Uni Thread, 8/0
Collar: Peacock Lucent Chenille
Hackle: Brahma Hen (Grizzly)
Eye: Silk Thread

Here’s what Paul has to say about it…

I’m all over the map with my approach to tenkara. Some days I’ll fish a decidedly non-traditional American tenkara method of a hopper-copper-dropper with a floating line on a big, brawny river like the Arkansas here in Colorado. Other times I like to hit tiny semi-desert canyons with a neo-traditional pattern like the sakasa kebari shown here. It’s so much fun to focus on a particular pattern for a day and see what you can do with it! This one is about tradition, simplicity, and what I consider a very artful kebari pattern. Utilitarian art…what a wonderful concept!

Some time ago I decided to look at what a few other experienced tenkara anglers and fly tyers were doing with eyeless hooks. I had never tied anything on a traditional Japanese eyeless hook. What I discovered was that a fly tied with a silk thread eye was extremely effective, and kept me connected with the tradition and fly patterns from Japan. Despite all of the envelope-pushing I do on a regular basis, I still feel it’s important to stay connected with tenkara’s roots.

I fish this fly pattern on a 3.5 level line with a 330 cm mid-flex rod. Because I cast it on creeks no more than 20 feet wide, I usually run a relatively short 6X tippet…say, 4 feet, with around 11 feet of line. I cast it upstream, swing it across and down, and cast it directly downstream. All three casts work. This pattern sits in or just below the surface film. I like the fact that I can still see trout take it, but the contact with, and slight immersion in the water keeps enough tension on the tippet that I can make effective hook sets and control on the fly. I cannot say enough about the wonderful Gamakatsu Amago hook. Hooksets are solid, and it’s shape simply screams KEBARI!

A simple, extremely effective, artful, traditional pattern! What’s not to like!

1492125_10205496625044452_7071050131107218822_oAbout Paul Vertrees

A fifth-generation native Coloradan, Paul grew up in the shadow of the Mt. Evans Wilderness, in Colorado’s Front Range. From an early age, he started exploring remote backcountry and chasing trout. Paul has been fly fishing for thirty years, and in 2009 he embraced Tenkara, the traditional Japanese method of fly fishing.  He has extensive experience in lightweight backpacking and backcountry angling on remote streams and high lakes.  In 2012, Paul became one of only a handful of certified professional Tenkara guides in the state of Colorado, and he guided tenkara trips for four seasons in the San Juan Mountain backcountry in Colorado for RIGS Fly Shop and Guide Service (Colorado’s first tenkara guide service). He is currently working as a tenkara guide for Royal Gorge Anglers in Canon City, Colorado. His writing and photographs have appeared online on his personal blog, Tenkara Tracks, with guest articles for Tenkara USA, on Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, in Backcountry Journal, and most recently in the book Tenkara Fly Fishing: Insights and Strategies, published in April 2013, to which Paul was a contributing writer/angler.  He has also provided tenkara presentations and demos for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers’ national rendezvous, on behalf of Zen Fly Fishing Gear at the 2015 Tenkara Winter Series, as well as tenkara presentations at the fly fishing show in Denver.  Paul lives with his wife and three daughters on the banks of the Arkansas River, in Canon City, Colorado.


4 Comments on Tenkara Fly Angles: Paul Vertrees

  1. Great post. I’ve never tried the traditional eyeless yet, but I’m intrigued. Would love to know how the nylon holds up and if it’s any more or less difficult to tie on tippet?

    • Bryan – on my eyeless hooks I use a #2 silk bead cord and coat it with super glue to stiffen it – works great. http://www.artbeads.com/silk-bead-cord.html
      You do have the slight disadvantage that if you want to take the fly on and off repeatedly you need to be careful about snipping the eye –
      perhaps that’s what Paul has used here too (appears uncoated though) – But perhaps Paul will chime in
      People will also use heavy fluorocarbon on nylon monofilament line – that works too.

  2. Sorry, just now reading Bryan’s question. I use uncoated #2 silk bead cord. I find that it holds up jus fine, and isn’t more difficult for me to attach tippet to it. Matter of fact it’s easier, simply because the “eye” is much larger than on a metal hook eye.

  3. Nice article! I really love the Tenkara Fly Angles series.

what say you?